Could the Mavericks hire Dirk Nowitzki to be a coach?
Nov 22, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; Former Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki during the game between the Mavericks and the Cavaliers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

With the Houston Rockets hiring Stephen Silas, there’s a sudden opening on Rick Carlise’s Dallas Mavericks staff. Since Carlise is known for unpredictable assistant hires, the range of candidates run the gamut. From members of the Mavericks’ organization to EuroLeague coaches, these are the candidates for the Mavericks’ assistant coach vacancy.

Nick Van Exel

A former Maverick, Van Exel has had an impressive post-basketball career. He started as an assistant coach at Texas Southern University before making the jump to the NBA for the Memphis Grizzlies. He currently works for the Mavericks as a personnel scout. Van Exel also had a stint as the head coach of the Texas Legends, the G League affiliate of the Mavericks. Since he’s already in the organization, Van Exel is definitely getting consideration for the role. Known for his flashy offense during his heyday, Van Exel would be a superb replacement for Silas.

J.J. Barea

Barea is one of the most beloved players in franchise history and someone Mark Cuban would love to keep in the organization. However, with a diminished role in 2019-2020, the point guard’s future is unknown as he enters free agency. In an interview with El Nuevo Dia, Barea mentioned Dallas may want him as a coach, but he would like to continue his playing career. However, he may find a tough market for a 36-year-old a season removed from an Achilles tear. If no team signs him, a coaching position will more enticing to Barea. A veteran leader on the Mavericks for years, Barea already has more respect from the players than any potential hire. 

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Brian Shaw

Currently a head coach in the G League, Shaw used to be one of the hottest coaching candidates in the league. After two mediocre seasons as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets, Shaw’s stock has fallen, but he’s still well regarded around the league. With players like Paul George crediting their development to Shaw’s coaching, the Mavericks would be foolish to not consider him. Shaw has more experience than most assistants — he’s won five rings as a player and coach — and would bring leadership to a young team looking to make the next step. 

Dirk Nowitzki

Most fans’ first choice, Dirk Nowitzki will have a future role at the franchise where he spent 21 seasons. However, few fans would expect him to return so soon after retiring. With that being said, the idea of Nowitzki returning this season to coach are not totally without merit. New Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Steve Nash offered Nowitzki the opportunity to join him on the Nets’ coaching staff. Nowitzki politely declined, saying in an interview, “First of all, I don’t know if I could do it anywhere but here (Dallas Mavericks).” Nowitzki goes on to say he wants to spend time with his family, so it’s still not likely. One thing is for sure — if Nowitzki wants the job, it’s his.

Rado Trifunović

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Luka Doncic is the most important player for the Dallas Mavericks and every decision the front office makes will have him in mind. With that knowledge, someone like Rado Trifunovic could be on the Mavericks radar. He was the first assistant to coach Igor Kokoskov on the Slovenian national team that won Eurobasket 2017. He would go on to replace Kokoskov when he became the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. This Slovenian connection is something Doncic may want, especially during this upcoming season during the pandemic. While he certainly would be a pick out of left field, don’t underestimate Doncic’s power in the organization.